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Here in Ireland, we have the public perception of having a high penetration of broadband, and a very connected economy. But if you get down into the realities of it, we have extremely poor access in Ireland. We have a situation where we have ADSL penetration around the 80 percent mark, but often at 56k speeds. We’re nowhere near say, the U.S., where they’re redefining broadband at certain defined speeds. We still have a situation where the government still sponsors satellite broadband access for rural application.

That’s one of the core challenges as a chapter, how to make sure that the entire country has access to affordable, reliable broadband Internet. What’s unfortunate is that, for a long time, Ireland was one of the leading countries in Europe when in terms of broadband access.

If you go back to about 2005, 2006, there was what was called the National Broadband Scheme, which was a push to build an international standard of broadband infrastructure in Ireland. But the best need to be continuously improved.  And we haven’t since 2005. So we’re now back into a situation where, you know, if you look at OECD statistics, we’re probably one of the lowest for broadband speeds within the OECD.

We also want to help the Irish government create made-in-Ireland Internet policy. Ireland often doesn’t do long-term goals, and we don’t do long-term policy planning around our Internet infrastructure, our policies around Internet access, our policies around net neutrality, you know, Internet governance. So we follow a European lead a lot, particularly on Internet governance matters. We focus very much on whatever the consensus European position is, and we then translate that into a bit of a watered-down Irish version. And that’s something thatmyself and a lot of others who’ve gotten involved in the chapter at the start disagree with. We think that Ireland pitching itself as a technology hub for the world, and one of the responsibilities that come along with that is not just following the crowd, but standing out and setting goals and international standards in these spaces that ISOC operates in.

One of the things we have going for us as a chapter is a huge number of top notch professionals in Ireland are involved. So before we do anything else, we want to get more Irish Internet professionals involved. We will be looking to  build that over the next one to five years, to find out who we should be approaching to get involved in the chapter. And we also have Irish ex-pats who are no longer in Ireland but have a strong connection to the country, or people that we know in the country that may not be exposed to the ISOC side of the policy work, but they’d like to do it. So you know, our piece is education and outreach for us to build here and engage these groups as well.

If you’re one of those people, drop me a line a james@cyberinvasion.net and we can start working togteher on building out our chapter.

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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